One, two, tree… go!!
First blog, first post, first website of my life. Typing these words feels like a big start. Just like when you are dragging your suitcases out of the airport to start in a new country. Everything is yet to happen.
So why am I doing this? What is it that made me build this up? Help underprivileged children, assist those who need it the most, make their life better, yes, but why? Those are the reasons for our organization to exist but this intends to be a personal blog of all our volunteers, including me, so why AM I doing it? Well, that´s what this post is all about.
Spanish writer Gil de Biedma describes in this poem how we all want to jump into the stage when we are young, perform fantastically and get a huge hand from the audience. But soon, he says, soon we realize it´s all about yourself. You are the actor, the plot, the audience and the theater. We want success and recognition. These are all injected values.
Bryan Dyson, former president and CEO of Coca-Cola, compared life in his goodbye message with a juggling game where you keep several balls in the air. These balls are usually family, friends, work, love and for me, social care. ¨You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back¨. The other balls, he explains, these are fragile and unique. If you drop one of these, they will never be the same.
Back in the summer of 2006 I went volunteering to Morocco together with my brother. The project was based on English and French classes all provided by European volunteers for the children from Youssouffia, one the poorest suburbs in Rabat. It was quite impressing to see a whole school receiving classes with volunteer work. Three hundred poor children where learning English during the summer with the coordination of one single person. That simple.
Besides Morocco, I volunteered in Bosnia, Nicaragua and Guatemala. From my experience travelling as volunteer, there is usually a hidden feeling among all of us: what could have been done with the money of my plane ticket? What if instead of paying a huge amount of money to come here for a month, I send this money over and pay someone locally to do the same job… for a year? Yes, for a whole year. Cause with the money you pay for a plane ticket in Europe you can afford paying someone in a poor country to do the same job for much longer. This is even greater when it comes to labor jobs such as construction, childcare or environmental projects.
So how can you make the price of the plane ticket good value for the communities you intend to help? How can you make it effective? It seems to me that the plane ticket is only worth when the volunteer work can not be replaced by anyone else in the region. This happens quite often in developing countries. Dentists, English teachers, agricultural engineers, there are very few in these countries and they can´t be afforded by the Estate to work for the general interest. You can´t use the money from the plane ticket to pay someone to do it because there´s not such someone. In these cases, the workforce has to be imported from rich countries. When these professionals are volunteering, their plane ticket and their efforts are particularly effective.
If you are reading this now, you got to the last paragraph of my post and you can probably expect the conclusion. I have decided to found this organization to simply do what I believe in, regardless the audience and bringing one more ball to the juggling game of my life. Every year I will spend the equivalent of a plane ticket to pay for the accommodation of a volunteer for 12 months. This volunteer will be teaching English and will be organizing the arrival of other volunteers who want to come and work in this area, which is unique and can´t be replaced by local workforce, providing for long term benefit to the children of these countries.
Pedro Pestana da Silva